Palm Springs and the California Desert





By Wendy Wood-Prince



Palm Springs California, oasis in the desert.


Palm Springs may conjure up images of retirees power walking in leisurewear amongst perfectly manicured sidewalks and avenues. Admittedly, there is a lot of that, but there is also so much more. The stark beauty of the rugged mountains and the piercing blue skies invite countless visitors to sample the beauty and outdoor activities that are unique to the California climate. Recently, my parents, sister, brother-in-law and I were there for the week.


Aerial Tramway terminal.


In Palm Springs one of the most recommended is the Aerial Tramway This ten minute ride in a rotating tram car takes passengers over two miles up Chino Canyon to Mount San Jacinto State Park. If you go, once at the top, look at the view, enjoy one of the restaurants and hike the many trails. Check the weather before you go and take a jacket, at 8516ft. getting off the tram at the top of the mountain is about 35 degrees colder than when boarding the tram at the bottom. And beware, even the “novice” hiking trails are challenging, as the altitude change and the rigorous terrain can be difficult to conquer. The views, mountain fresh air and the ancient trees are well worth the effort.


The jagged mountains of Chino Canyon.


For the airplane enthusiast or on one of the rare rainy days, the Palm Springs Air Museum is the place to go. Located adjacent to the Palm Springs International Airport, it is extremely easy to get to. One of the premiere air museums in the world, this one has it all. There are four hangars, totaling 86,000 square feet, filled with aircraft from different eras focusing on the bombers and fighter planes from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Saturday afternoons between November and May feature flight exhibitions. Visitors can even book a ride in a C-47 Skytrain or a cool red plane that I later looked up online to discover was a P-51 Mustang. If flying in one of the planes is just too much, try the simulators, where you can fly and test your skill at landings. Many of the docents are veterans themselves and have flown the types of aircraft at the museum. It is truly a dream come true for aviation fans. Check it out at


My father at the top of Mount San Jacinto State Park.


A 17 mile drive south via South Palm Canyon Drive are Indian Canyons, located in the Aqua Caliente Indian Reservation. Andreas Canyon has an easy mile and a half trail which meanders along Andreas creek and through the second largest California Fan Palm Oasis in the world. Hiking through this lush canyon is like a walk back in time and a stark contrast to the surrounding desert. Murray Canyon is a bit more foreboding with rough terrain best seen on horseback. Smoke Tree Stables offers guided rides through many of the Canyons which are just a ten minute drive from Murray Canyon. The two hour trail ride allows for ample exploring in the canyon.


Mountains and sunny blue skies greet all arrivals at Palm Springs International Airport.


Also, every March, the BNP Parisbas Open tennis tournament takes place in Indian Wells. All of the major players compete at this prestigious tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Roger Federer, Novak “the Joker” Djokovic and the Williams sisters were among the players attending this past March. The venue offers tennis on par with any of the major tournaments, live music in the evenings and first class dining including Nobu and Spago right within the walls of the tournament. A great choice for relaxing, eating and enjoying world class tennis. For more information and tickets go to


Iconic California poppies.


Palm Springs offers a cornucopia of outdoor activities, world class dining options, and warm sunny days with crisp cool nights. A perfect reprieve from long cold winters in the north and the never ending nor’easters on the east coast.


Mouthwatering selections from Spago.


Get your Worldwide connection through Wendy at Lake Forest Travel Bureau.